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Inside Politics

Huma Abedin on Why She Hasn't Ruled Out Running for Office; McCarthy Threatens Payback After Dems Censure GOP Rep. Gosar; McCarthy Says GOP Holds Members to a "High Standard"; Dramatic Testimony Today from Man who Shot Ahmaud Arbery; Manchin Won't Commit to Starting Debate on Biden Agenda. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 18, 2021 - 12:00   ET



HUMA ABEDIN, LONGTIME AIDE TO HILLARY CLINTON: Do I see myself running for office? I don't. But I would like to be open to all kinds of options and possibilities.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: You end the book with no - with that you would do it all over again. So no regrets are that you're saying?

ABEDIN: No regrets, absolutely not. I can't think of anything that I would regret. I am - I have so much gratitude for the life that I've had. It's been one of extraordinary privilege. I'm a daughter of an immigrant parents came to this country. I mean, I have only positive and you know wonderful reflections on my experience in politics.

BOLDUAN: And you can read that all in the book. Huma, thank you for coming in. I appreciate it.

ABEDIN: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for being here. "Inside Politics" begins now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, everybody, and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your very busy day with us.

Anxiety as America anticipates a verdict soon out of Kenosha, it is day three now in jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. The defense is again asking for a mistrial, that after a dispute over crucial video evidence.

Plus, a very dramatic day of testimony in Glynn County, Georgia; one of the three men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery is back on the stand this morning facing cross examination. And today you might call it a split screen up on Capitol Hill Democrats say they are close to passing the giant fight and rewrite the social safety net while Republicans defend or shrug off a colleague's violent tweet and they vow retribution against the Democrats who censured him.

And we begin right there with House Republicans that have just wrapped up conference from their Leader Kevin McCarthy. The top House Republicans says he spoke before President Trump this morning from the golf course. And he says the Democrats should worry about what happens if Republicans retake the majority after next year's midterm elections?

The top takeaway as Republicans asked you to put them back in power, there will be no punishment, no punishment for one of their own Congressman Paul Gosar, for posting a vile, violent video in which his animated character kills a female democratic colleague.

Let's get straight up to CNN's Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill; Manu, a very busy morning and a lot of discussion about essentially civility in the House or lack thereof?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's very clear that this is not going to end anytime soon. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Leader just indicating to reporters that those two members, Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who became the first members to be stripped of their committee assignments by a majority party in the House.

That he would essentially put them back in those positions in the new Congress if he were to win back the House majority next fall. Now the question also is what will Republicans do to retaliate? McCarthy reiterating that there would be retribution against Democrats and potentially remove them from their committee assignments in the aftermath of what happened to Paul Gosar yesterday in the House.

Now, when I had a chance to ask the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi about concerns she may have that Republicans may retaliate against her members, she pushed back.


RAJU (on camera): Are you at all uncomfortable with the very the likelihood that if Republicans take the majority, they may retaliate against Democrats remove them from their committees for any perceived or even serious offense that may happen?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Is the inference that I draw from your question that we should have not censured Mr. Gosar for his shameful behavior, for fear of something that Republicans might do, in the unlikely case that they might win the Congress?

Even if they do, we can't. I don't expect that that's the case. And I'm doing everything in my power to make sure it isn't not just because of Gosar but because of our democracy, which they are undermining every single day.


RAJU: She also made a point that just two Republican members voted to censure Paul Gosar and removing from his committee assignments. Yesterday, those two Republicans, Liz Cheney, and also Adam Kinzinger, of course, was the prominent Trump critics 2 of the 10 who voted to impeach Donald Trump, the other eight who voted to impeach Donald Trump voted against this measure. Some of them were concerned that it simply went too far. They said it would set the precedent it didn't want to set to remove people committee assignments. I tried to ask the speaker directly, why not just focus on the issue of censure instead of removing Gosar from his committee assignments? She didn't address that directly but make clear she has no regrets, John.

KING: No regrets. Manu Raju I appreciate your kicking us off live busy day on Capitol Hill; with me in studio to share their reporting and their insights NPR's Claudia Grisales, Olivier Knox of "The Washington Post" and "The Wall Street Journal's" Catherine Lucey.

It's interesting to come out of this to Speaker Pelosi saying we're not going to let threats of future action sway us but more interesting to me was Kevin McCarthy, who is just completely unapologetic about this. He answers the question he spoke to Donald Trump this morning.

He hugs Donald Trump every day he says he's one of his friends. Donald Trump is the foundation of their party and he is a liar about the American election. And he says Mr. Gosar he doesn't believe this was appropriate thing that gets me Claudia is that Gosar took the video down.

McCarthy used that to say he took it down. Let's move on. Minutes after being censured by the House he reposted the video, which is a flipping the bird frankly at the Democrats who censured him but also at his Leader Kevin McCarthy?

CLAUDIA GRISALES, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, NPR: Right. This is just him showing once again that he's an apologist that he has no regret no remorse even after this very, very difficult day on the House floor all centered over the first time that he put out this video.


GRISALES: So it just shows the direction this party goes in, which is Trump remains a center and its hard charging ahead in terms of whatever he blesses is good for them.

KING: And welcome in their midst, Mr. Gosar, McCarthy said he would probably get new committee assignments if they took back the majority. Who in addition to this violent video has said and done other things, including associating with nationalist - white nationalist and the like.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, who posts online, the phone numbers of members who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, what at least one of whom is now receiving death threats and other members who have done things beyond the pale that if we did it our workplace, we would be fired for?

OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. One of the interesting things about this is that we're sort of seeing a shift of what counts as mainstream inside of the Republican Party? So you've had this month long effort to whitewash the January 6th, riot insurrection, pick your term. You now have Kevin McCarthy saying he'll put Congresswoman Greene back on committees, Congressman Gosar back on committees.

And what that says is these are not fringe elements of the party, which of course they're not because as you say, Donald Trump is the center of gravity of the GOP right? But it's really important to consider that, as we describe the sort of the possibility that they're manageable, as he says, it's unlikely that the House Republican retake the House.

History says otherwise, current polling says otherwise. And so you know, we should be prepared for what that means when those members are seen as mainstream in the Republican Party.

KING: Mainstream and to be moved up into committee assignments, and then up three seats through seniority. And all that moments ago, Kevin McCarthy listen here says we're not the problem.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This isn't about threats. But it's about holding people accountable. I think the majority is going to have to approve any of those members on the committees of which they could serve. So yes, we hold our members to a high standard.


KING: The first part is about you know, what happens to Democrats putting getting committee assignments, if the Republicans are in charge? I'm not even going to give it a second. I'd like to give it a second. I'd like it to be a fair debate. But the last part is so yes, we hold our members to a high standard.

When the Republican Leader of the House lies repeatedly, why should we listen to anything he says? He has not held any of his members to any standard?

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, as everyone has said, today, I mean, it is Trump's party. It is holding the party to Trump's standards, really. And your party's making clear, he's going to continue that.

And the way a lot of Republicans see it is they have a lot of support in their base out in the country in a lot of these districts for the moves that they're making right now. And so there's really no evidence they're going to turn away from any of this rhetoric or from embracing some of these most extreme members.

But what's in - I mean, what is interesting, though, is we are at a moment where a lot of other things are really trending positively for Republicans in terms of the president's polling is down. You know, inflation is up is a very, you know, big talking point heading into the next, you know, the midterm elections.

But the focus last couple days, it's really all been on these conflicts within the party, you know, within the party.

KING: Which begs a giant question and a question that's very difficult for us in our business, because this is Kevin McCarthy yesterday, this came up today too. He walked through his press conference, and he made that point. He said, in one year of democratic governance, gas prices are up, inflation is up, and Americans are having a harder time, which is a political argument.

Again, a Democrat out there can say, hey, wait a minute, it's COVID. Hey, wait a minute, Biden can control that. I get that. But that's in the normal scope of political argument, what Leader McCarthy came in to make. Yesterday, he did something similar and the first question was about Gosar, and this was his reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you listen to anything we said? Did you listen to anything the American public said last Tuesday?


KING: This is the hard part. I'm trained as a wire guy, you're trained as a wire guy, you worked the wires, or you're a great reporter up on Capitol Hill. We are trained to cover all sides or cover both sides of a story. But do we? Does he deserve us to listen to him at all on policy, when the foundation of the party is we love Trump?

He was at a big fundraiser just at the beginning of the week; Trump is still lying every single day about the election, endorsing candidates who back the big lie. When he won't clean up the weed out or at least punish extremism, stalking right in his own conference. Should we listen to him on anything else when he won't clean up his mess?

KNOX: Listen to him or trust him two different things. As long as people have their hands on the levers of power ignoring them is something you do at your own peril. The question about the inflation stuff they the bad news for buying the bad polling and the rest of it is a standalone story.

You don't actually need Kevin McCarthy, his words about it. These are - these are observable phenomena in the real world. So of course, you have to listen to him in part because, you know, some of the threats that he and other Republican are making about what they'll do if they retake the majority.

You have to be aware of these and you should inform voters that this is a possibility. So I think you absolutely have to listen. I mean, he's not - he didn't suddenly not become the Republican Leader in the House, whatever you think of his hold on that particular power?

LUCEY: But certainly, I mean, the other thing that's going on right now in the party, other real attention with Republicans is the Republicans who voted in favor of the infrastructure who are being subjected to threat.

[12:10:00] LUCEY: Some of them are getting they're getting death threats and how the party is dealing with that? So you have there's no space in the party right now for any, you know, division or dissent and really people voting for something that, up until pretty recently was considered a bipartisan issue.

KING: Right. The energy in the party is punished. Those who voted for something Joe Biden wanted do not hold accountable. Those who have done reprehensible they don't Trump wanted until it was Joe Biden in the White House.

To that point it's interesting. We'll button up the conversation here. But the current Chairman of the Republican National Committee appointed by Donald Trump this morning said Biden is the President said he won. She said that and she said she still considers Liz Cheney to be a Republican despite what the Wyoming Republican Party did. It'd be interesting to see if the former president takes issue with that?

Everybody standby; we're watching two very highly charged court cases across America today. Day three of jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial, that's Kenosha, Wisconsin, and one of the men accused of killing the man jogging in Georgia Ahmaud Arbery takes the stand again today after testify he acted in self-defense. We're live with the latest in both cases next.



KING: In Georgia, the man who shot and killed 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery took the stand this morning testifying in the defense's second day of presenting their case. Faith leaders are gathering outside that courthouse right now. One of the defense attorneys has repeatedly objected to black pastors showing up in the courtroom. CNN's Martin Savidge is covering this trial. And he's live for us now in Brunswick, Georgia, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So John, it was the continuation of the cross examination by the prosecution to the testimony of Travis McMichael, over and over. The prosecutor got him to admit two key points. Number one that they didn't really say that they were going after Ahmaud Arbery that day to conduct a citizen's arrest that's going to keep pointing to events.

And two also got Travis McMichael to admit that initially when he told police of the altercation, he never said that Ahmaud Arbery grabbed the shotgun. But on the witness stand when he testified he did say Ahmaud Arbery grabbed the shotgun. It's a conflict that was not resolved, but clearly points up to the jury. There's a question on self-defense.

Finally, though, the morning ended with a very dramatic moment. There was another witness on the stand talking about crime in the community. When one of the prosecutors got up for cross examination and said, do you believe that stealing that someone deserves the death penalty in Georgia? Instantly, there was an outburst in the courtroom from the defense. There's been a motion now for a mistrial. They say that characterization and that question was completely out of line the judge is deciding over lunch, John.

KING: Keep an eye on that one. Martin Savidge, grateful you're on the ground live for us to track it as we go through these important developments. Let's bring it now for some conversation and analysis our Legal Analysts Elliot Williams and Caroline Polisi of Federal & White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney.

Caroline, let me start with you. To Martin's point, you know, one word used in a courtroom by one of the attorneys can get mistrial motions filed and all that. This morning as we watched the prosecutor and her cross examination just a methodical takes. One fact at a time; question by question. What was your impression?

CAROLINE POLISI, FEDERAL AND WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I thought she just dismantled Travis McMichael there on the stand, as you noted, systematically drawing out that prior inconsistent statement. That's what we call it as lawyers and McMichael's attorney trying to, quote, rehabilitate him afterwards, just not happening.

You know McMichael had a convenient memory recollection of some key details that he didn't have immediately after the event. One of which was a key to a self-defense claim, which is that now he's stating that Arbery grabbed for his gun that he feared for his life, and that, you know, his life flashed before his eyes.

He had a lot of tearful testimony on the stand yesterday. Where have we seen tearful testimony before of a man that brought a gun to a knife fight, if you will, I mean, in this case, he brought a gun to Arbery's jog really, really, really powerful stuff from the trial today.

KING: And Elliot jump in at that point. One of the questions here is for viewers who might not have been following the case closely at the time; there was a citizen's arrest law in place in Georgia. It has since been amended and watered down significantly.

But the defendants are trying to make the case that they thought there was this criminal in the neighborhood and they had the right to pursue. I thought one of the things the prosecutor did a very smartly and again, methodically today was did you see a gun? Did you see a knife?

Did he ever say anything threatening to you to make the point that even if you thought you had this right to follow this person, you were some - of whom you were suspicious? Never was there anything that came to the - you - the threshold where use of force would be offered?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, more importantly John what this exposes is why it's incredibly risky to put a defendant on the stand in any place? What you saw yesterday to many jurors and many people watching was oh, this guy nice guy, soft spoken guy in a suit worried about safety in his community out there trying to keep the community safe.

What emerged today was an individual number one who clearly - the prosecutors poked holes in whether he had probable cause to be prosecute - pursuing somebody in the neighborhood? Number two, his stories just don't line up and then number three, that he had other alternatives.

He could have gotten in the car and driven away could have not pulled out the shotgun and so on. All of those things are going to number one point to his credibility and number two point to the fact he's just not defending himself or at least a situation of his own doing.

So he really I think they took a big risk by putting him on the stand and it seemed like it might have backfired.

KING: Right. We'll continue to follow that case. Let's move on to day three now of deliberations, jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial that is in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Our Shimon Prokupecz, is outside the courthouse there Shimon was the latest?


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So about 19 hours or so now John in the - that the jury has been deliberating. We are getting some news from the courthouse now that the attorneys have gathered at the courthouse, both the prosecutor and the defense team with the judge. So we're waiting to get word on that.

But obviously, we're just waiting everyone out here awaiting for the jury to see if they're going to make their decision today? We've not heard from the jury today at all following yesterday's requests for that drone video, and other video which of course resulted in the defense team asking for another mistrial.

I spoke to the Defense Attorney Mark Richards briefly this morning about that. He said they're still working on the motion. They're going to file it at some point but they're waiting. Interestingly enough, John, he told me you know Mark Richards has been practicing law here for many, many years.

He told me that so right now where they're at in terms of the timing that this is the longest he's had a jury out on any of the criminal cases he's ever tried which I kind of thought was interesting. But like I said, everyone just waiting and we'll see if we'll get any word from the jury today on what they're going to have any questions?

KING: Shimon Prokupecz same as Martin Savidge grateful good reporting on the ground and watching these trials play out. Please come back to us if anything new happens? Thank you very much. Up next for us, House Democrats inching closer to passing the second big piece of the Biden first year agenda.


[12:25:00] KING: House Speaker is promising there will be a vote on the president's rework of the social safety net soon. Speaker hopes that vote soon could mean as early as today, but not before it gets a key score that will determine whether or not it's fully paid for?

Many members have said they want to see those numbers before they'll cast a vote. Our panel is back with us and so Claudia, let's get back to that. The Speaker wants to get this done. She wants to get this done tonight. Let's listen to her language earlier today; apologies to America for bringing in the acronyms of Washington.


PELOSI: Hopefully will take place later this afternoon. They'll get again the final CBO estimates later this afternoon hopefully by five o'clock.


KING: A Congressional Budget Officer, a number of members who they just want to make sure the president says this will be paid for? The White House has already put them on notice though the CBO is unlikely to agree with our assessment, there are some discrepancies of how certain policies would or would not generate money?

GRISALES: Right. This is a big, big moment for Democrats trying to finally clear this massive bill through the House Chamber. And with all of the back and forth with the moderates in the Senate for the Democratic Party is going to be a key opportunity for the House Democrats to say here's our model for this bill. Take it leave it, we're done with it and perhaps as early as this week is released today.

KING: So the House would then send it over to the Senate. I assume that happens. I know we have to wait on some things. You're laughing at me. I know. Nothing, nothing can be assumed. But assume that happens.

The House - the House Democrats seems to be in the posture that we're going to move this over to the Senate and then we'll see what happens. One of the things put in the House bill to get votes of some key moderates', most of them from the northeast part is so called "SALT" State and Local Tax Deductions that were taken away as part of the Trump tax cuts. Bernie Sanders on the Senate side says, nope.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I think its bad politics. It's bad policy. The Democrats correctly have campaigned on the understanding that amidst massive income and wealth inequality, we've got to demand that the wealthy stop paying their fair share of taxes, not giving them what tax breaks. The bottom line is we have to help the middle class, not the 1 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: If the Senate strips out, paid family leave four weeks of that, because Joe Manchin says he's not for it. And Bernie Sanders gets the Senate to strip out state and local tax deductions, and then it goes back to the House and what happens?

LUCEY: Now we'll have to see what they do. And there's a number of members who, especially on SALT, a number of members whose votes are really contingent on keeping that in the bill. And so this becomes the - I mean, I was not laughing at you just with you. But there's a lot of -

KING: That's OK.

LUCEY: --a lot of turnout for this, as we all knows, before it gets. I mean, there's still like the White House is still remains optimistic. They think they're close. They certainly think they get it to the House before Thanksgiving. And they do think there's a path forward. But as we have seen a lot of twists and turns and in the Senate, any one member can really slow this whole process.

KING: Even in the House only three or four votes to spare. So any anybody are in the House, if you have a couple of friends, you are kingmakers. And the longer this is on the vine members have every right at every reason to say I like this, or I don't like that. That's the way politics works.

And another example, Senator Manchin, who gets a lot of attention because he's key on the Senate there's a tax credit in there for electric vehicles, but it would only go to Union shops. And so he says, when I heard about this, they were putting this in the bill, I went right to the sponsor, and I said, this is wrong. This can't happen. It's not who we are as a country.

It's not how we built this country. And the product should speak for itself. We shouldn't use everyone's tax dollars to pick winners and losers. Again, the longer it's on the vine, if you don't like something, you can stop it.

KNOX: Sure. Nancy Pelosi is rewarding the progressives by having a vote on this at all. She's already the moderates by having things like the SALT provision in there, and then she's kicking it all over to the Senate saying Godspeed, Chuck Schumer.

You know, Bernie - Bernie's - if you watch the Republican messaging on this, Bernie has a point about it being bad politics. Republicans have seized on the fact that this is one of the largest this - this tax reduction would chiefly go to the rich and it's one of the largest pieces of this legislation.

If you're looking at Republican messaging, it's pretty clear. They think it's great to be able to say the Democrats proposal is going to by taxes on all these wealthy coastal millionaires. I don't know that they - I don't know that they junk it because there was an effort actually led by Bernie Sanders and Senator Menendez to change the SALT Provision.